Forum: Volunteers sweeping leaves could make for quieter parks

I agree with Mr Tan Kim Hock that there is environmental noise pollution in open spaces (Use of leaf blowers driving people away from park, Dec 4).

Besides the use of leaf blowers, there is noise from garbage collection, fogging, grass cutting, tree trimming and road cleaning. However, there may be limited scope for reducing these activities.

While green spaces don't need to be perfectly manicured, in Singapore's climate, plants grow fast, leaves drop year-round and conditions are generally damp and wet. Letting rotting leaf litter lie on paths also creates a slipping hazard.

It is important to improve labour productivity and mechanise maintenance activities that were historically manual as Singapore cannot rely on cheap foreign labour forever.

Businesses can tap the Productivity Solutions Grant administered by the National Environment Agency to mechanise environmental activities where possible. Perhaps more could be done to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in using this grant effectively.

Has an analysis been done on how and when different products should be used? In the case of leaf blowers, they may not be effective or labour-saving in Singapore where damp leaves stick to surfaces and require more time and air pressure to be removed.

While Mr Tan complains about noise for recreational park users, have the authorities been able to also implement a culture of care for environmental workers? I rarely see workers wearing hearing protection even as they use devices for hours, unlike those of us who pass by in a few seconds.

I wonder if greater community involvement could help. For instance, could volunteering to sweep leaves be an opportunity for park users to get exercise and practise mindfulness? Would this enhance a sense of ownership of our parks, reduce reliance on noisy devices and increase appreciation of environmental maintenance?

Tay Su Lian

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